Speed is Everything — First Step to Faster a WordPress Site

If your website doesn’t load fast, you’re kissing your visitors goodbye before they even get to you.

Let’s face it, we’re all impatient when it comes to web page load time.  We’ve become accustomed to the internet being fast, and when we go to our local search engine, click on a link, and come across a website that doesn’t load in under 3 seconds, we’re very much inclined to hit the “Back” button and try out the next result in the search results page.

Because we’re all about not wasting a second, because life is too precious to waste on a slow loading site… even if it has better content, or a better product or service.

This is why you should do EVERYthing you can to speed up your website.  But, when your website is running WordPress, it is prone to running slower.  You’ve probably noticed that your site may not load as fast as other “static” websites.

Why is that?

There’s A Lot Going On

Well, there’s the WordPress engine core which has, at last count, over 484,000 lines of code in it.  When you throw a theme on top, there’s bound to be another 10,000 more lines of code for the theme framework.  Then there’s all the plugins that enhance the WordPress system that you install over top of the core and theme.

Before you know it, you’ve got a fantastically feature rich and robust site… that is slower than molasses.

And when I say slow, I mean slow to generate the HTML that gets sent to the browser.  I’m not even talking about optimizing for Google PageSpeed, which is a whole other topic.

What I’m talking about is just the time it takes to compile and render the HTML code that the browser uses to render the web page.

And with all of the code and database access that it takes to build the HTML, it can take a few seconds before the page is sent to the requesting web browser.

So how on earth can we speed this up?

Glad you asked.

Speed It Up

The very first thing you should do is install a “caching” plugin.

A caching plugin basically stores a static version of your Page and Posts so that there is virtually no build time — it just requests the “saved” copy of the page and serves that to the end user.  And as many pages and posts don’t get updated ‘often’, you can store a cached copy of your pages and posts until your content is updated.

If you don’t have a WordPress plugin that caches your content, you absolutely MUST get one.

If you need some place to start, we would recommend you look at either WP Total Cache or WP Super Cache.  Both have their own set of features that you can configure, and we’ll let you decide which one works best for your situation.

But you need to have one or the other.

It could mean the difference between keeping and losing those precious visitors that need your product, service, or content.

i3dTHEMES TV://interactive 29 – “Tough Problems and Simple Solutions”

Truly.

Sometimes the hardest problems have the easiest solutions, which is why you should never give up.

Working through a problem, just putting in the effort and persevering through whatever challenge you’re up against, whether it’s in working with your website, or in business, or in life, is key.

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Speeding Up Your Web Pages: A Google PageSpeed Checklist

When Google PageSpeed first hit our radar, it seemed there was a lot of vague and sometimes contradictory information available on how to optimize web pages to load and render faster.

It was hard to tell where to start, and in which order to proceed. We wish we had had a simple checklist telling us exactly what needed to be done.

If you’re one of those webmasters that loves to follow a checklist, we hope this will help you out.

Google PageSpeed Checklist

  • Enable GZIP Compression
  • Enable Browser Caching
  • Optimize your Images
  • Minify all CSS files
  • Minify all JavaScript
  • Defer or Asynchronously load all JavaScript links
  • Asynchronously load all CSS links
  • Inline any Critical Above-The-Fold Styles
  • Minify the web page itself (HTML)

If you can get through that, you should be getting a 95 out of 100 for Google PageSpeed.

In A Little More Detail

Enabling GZIP Compression

With this step, you would turn on your server’s compression technology with instructions in a special control file.

Enabling Browser Caching

Here, you would provide specific instructions in a control file, that would tell the server to tell the visitor’s web browser, how long to keep static resources (JS, CSS, Images) cached.

Optimizing Your Images

This is actually one of the most important and easiest things you can do to improve your PageSpeed score.  Run your images through tinypng.com

Minify your CSS Files

This is where you strip  your CSS files of any white-space and comments.  By minifying, you can often reduce the file size of your resources by half.

Minify your JavaScript Files

This is where you strip  your JS files of any white-space and comments.  This step is a little trickier than that of the CSS minification, as JavaScript is very sensitive to an incorrectly minified file.  Be sure to test your code once you’ve minified your JavaScript.  Always keep a backup of your non-minified JS.

Defer or Asynchronously Load all JavaScript Files

JavaScript files are considered “render blocking” resources, which means that the HTML page will not “render” until all “render blocking” resources have loaded.  To speed up the rendering of your HTML, to have your page appear to load faster to the visitor, you need to “defer” or “asynchronously load” all of your JavaScript resources.

Asynchronously Load all CSS Files

Just like the JavaScript files, CSS files are also considered “render blocking”.  By asynchronously loading the CSS files, you will have the HTML render immediately.  The trouble with doing this step, however, is that the page will show as unstyled until the “asynchronously loaded” CSS files are loaded.  This is called the “Flash of Unstyled Text” (FoUT).  You can overcome this by implementing the next step.

Inline any Critical Above-The-Fold Styles

Determine which styles are critical to the rendering of the above-the-fold content, and inline them into the HEAD region of your HTML Page.  If done correctly, this will eliminate the FoUT.

Minify your Web Page (HTML)

Last thing to do is to minify your actual web page.  This can reduce the size of your web page by 50%.

See How You’re Doing

Each one of the above tasks is worth a different “weight” of score depending upon  what else may or may not already be completed.  You can test out to see how your page is working by going to superaccelerator.io